People recite the Lord's Prayer during a Mass for young adults Dec. 7 at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz

Speaking Out: Beauty in the old fashioned

By  Jacklyn Gilmor, Speaking Out
  • November 10, 2017
Plenty of my peers have told me they don’t understand why Catholics can’t just get with the times.

After all, we still sing ancient hymns and each Mass consists of the same rites and rituals, like the sign of peace and the Our Father. However, I believe there is beauty in our traditions, especially when young people embrace them.

In many respects, the Church has been the same since its beginnings 2,000 years ago. A lot of hymns come from the Psalms. In them, we can find praise for our restless hearts. The words may be time-worn, but that is because they hold so much meaning.

It’s important to consider how many voices have sung these songs and how they unite worshippers. The Sanctus (Holy Holy Holy), for example, is drawn directly from the books of Isaiah and Revelation, which tell us the angels sing this to the Lord. When the congregation sings the Sanctus during Mass, they become united in worship with the chorus of angels in Heaven. 

Still, songs can become tired and lazy, especially for teens and young adults who are more familiar to newer music. Generally, traditional music is played during Mass, but sometimes church bands play popular Christian hits as well.

This can be appropriate for Mass when these modern instruments and melodies revive the lyrics of old hymns. Take Matt Maher, for one. A hugely popular Canadian Catholic artist, he brings a new sound to Our Father.

Even if it sounds new, Church music is still the same. It is created and sung based on communal praise, which is rooted in the Church’s history. All of it is for the glory of God.

Hymns are one thing, but it’s also a common complaint that the Mass is always “the same.” My answer to that is: naturally, since God is always the same.

Saying the Our Father is old-fashioned, but what Christian of any denomination does not know it? Then the sign of peace. What a wonderful custom! I know it can be easy to wish you didn’t have to shake everyone’s hand but it’s an opportunity to greet other members of the body of Christ and put yourself in community.

Ultimately, the Church holds on to many customs because they unite us, not just around the world but across generations. We are familiar with them and they are universal to the human heart.

Despite what some of my peers may think, the Church wants to reach out to youth, who refresh and invigorate its timeless beauty.

St. John Paul II said that humanity needs the witness of young people who “proclaim with vigour and enthusiasm their personal faith in God.”

Young people bring a fresh perspective and new fire to bring to God’s Kingdom. If we learn to embrace the beauty of tradition, we will see that the Church is indeed “old-fashioned” and we are incredibly blessed that it remains the same.

(Gilmor, 19, is a second-year journalism student at Ryerson University in Toronto.)

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